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Mandating a climate win.

Politicians are accused of having a poor record picking technology winners and technology has raced ahead of politics in sectors like communications and computing, but the Manhattan and Apollo Projects were cases where perceived and real existential threats necessitated a concerted political effort.

Global warming is another case where a massive political effort is required yet, to date, there has been a complete failure at the policy level.

The following graphic from the paper The global energy balance from a surface perspective by Wild et al demonstrates that the incoming solar radiation and outgoing thermal radiation at the top of the atmosphere are in equilibrium but for the .6 watts per square meter residual subsurface heat flux shown in the green arrow.  

The residual heat is shown being injected beneath the surface and in fact, 93 percent of the heat of warming is going into the oceans.

At the surface, the absorbed solar radiation plus the “back radiation” resulting from greenhouse gases are offset by the radiation from the surface minus sensible heat, latent heat of evaporation and the residual heat.

Evaporation offsets about 25 percent of the greenhouse effect that makes the surface 30 degrees warmer than it otherwise would be were there no greenhouse effect.

As Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research reported in a 2011 paper, Changes in precipitation with climate change, evaporation dries the surface but increases the water holding capacity of the air by about 7% per 1°C warming.

This increased water holding is producing atmospheric rivers and arguably higher storm surge levels and more rainfall from tropical cyclones that are more intense and larger.

On top of this, the increasing sensible heat of the oceans is producing thermal expansion and sea level rise.

Latent heat, however, is a two-way street. Surface heat can be relocated just as easily to below the surface, into deep water, by a heat pipe that converts a working fluid like ammonia to a vapor and then condenses it at depth.

If that vapor passes through a heat engine a portion of the heat is converted to useful work, which is the object of burning fossil fuels in the first place.

Since the surface area of the Earth is 510.1 million square kilometers, at .6 watt per square meter a doubling of the residual heat produces about twice as much energy as fossil fuels. With this energy, you get a decrease in evaporation, surface heating, lowered storm surge, rainfall from tropical cyclones that are less intense and smaller and for each gigawatt of continuous power generated by Negative-Emissions OTEC 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions are avoided while consuming and storing 5 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

And on top of this, the process neutralizes ocean acidification.

Forbes writes of Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Peter Thiel backing very various fusion schemes to beat solar power.  

Neither fusion or solar power provides the benefits provided by Negative-Emissions OTEC, which is every bit as technically mature as fusion and just as cost effective.

Instead of well-heeled venture capitalist, the world needs a new General Groves.

In this regard, the military is the only sector of the U.S. government that has consistently warned of the threat posed by global warming.

 As the following NOAA table shows the relative forcing due to warming since 1750 is about 2.29 watts per meter.

It takes 250 years for residual heat moved to 1,000 meters to resurface at which times today’s radiative forcing would have declined to the 1750 level. The addition of an additional 2.11 watt per square meter (2.29*92.4%) at that time would be an improvement over the status quo and the greenhouse gas thermal up and down vectors are adjusted accordingly.

The depletion of radiative forcing should proceed over the course of 13 cycles until all the heat of warming has been converted to work and the radiative forcing and temperature of the ocean and atmosphere revert to the preindustrial level.

Some claimed that the heat of warming can’t be effectively moved below the ocean surface because the earth is a black body.

Since it is absorbing more energy than it is emitting it is not.  

The Stefan-Boltzmann Law E = σT4 where E represents the rate of radiation (energy flux) times the Stefan-Boltzmann constant (5.67 x 10-8W/m2K4) times the temperature in Kelvin to the fourth power dictates the power radiated by a true black body in terms of its temperature.

The following classic NASA picture taken by a crew member of Apollo 17 titled “The Blue Marble” shows the earth’s true colors.  

 

It is transparent at the top of the atmosphere that has a diameter 960 kilometers greater than the surface that is 115 degrees colder than the surface. It is black at a depth of 1 kilometer, one of the few places where it is black, where the temperature is 11 degrees colder the surface, and white over significant parts of its surface, for a significant part of the year, and when clouded covered.

But more importantly, evaporation is an important mechanism for heat transfer in the atmosphere and latent heat can be as equally as effective transferring heat below the surface and as a countermeasure to the deleterious effects of evaporation.

Putting a price on pollution is neither an energy nor environmental solution.

It is a wasteful bureaucratic exercise that satisfies no one.

In an age of populist unrest twice the energy, jobs and opportunities are the answer.

To the get there we need unadulterated, mandated, science but instead get fiascos like Yucca Mountain where policymakers attempt to fit a square technical peg into a round hole for no other reason than politics.   

This can’t be allowed to happen with global warming.

With a fraction of the money now being wasted on fossil fuel subsidies, for a few years while the R&D is undertaken, we can develop a solution that sustains mankind for the next three millennia.

Jim Baird's picture

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